Missing Jet's Route Was Changed via Computer

As China launches land search

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 18, 2014 4:22 AM CDT | Updated Mar 18, 2014 7:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – The first turn that took Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 off course was made through a computer system, not by manual operation of the plane's controls, reports the New York Times, citing "senior American officials" involved in the investigation. Officials say the "seven or eight keystroke" change was entered into the Flight Management System, located on a pedestal that sits between the pilot and co-pilot, leading investigators to take a harder look at the two men. It's not clear whether the route was changed before or after the plane took off. Experts say whoever made the change would have to be familiar with Boeing aircraft, and it is far-fetched to think a passenger could have programmed the new route. More:

  • China says it has begun searching a huge chunk of territory for any trace of the flight—but an investigation has turned up no sign that any of the 153 Chinese nationals on board had anything to do with the jet's disappearance. At a press conference in Malaysia today, China's ambassador told reporters that Beijing had "conducted meticulous investigation into all the [Chinese] passengers, and did not find any evidence for sabotage activity," the Guardian reports.
  • The Chinese announcement significantly shortens the list of possible suspects, and will probably dampen speculation that Uighur separatists were involved, CNN notes.
  • As the search continues along vast northern and southern arcs from the plane's last known location, the US says it has removed the Navy ship USS Kidd from the effort, reports the BBC. Officials say the ship, which has been searching the Andaman Sea, was taken off the search because "long-range patrol aircraft" are more suitable for searching the expanded search area.

China's rescue ships conduct an offshore search operation for MH 370.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhao Yingquan)
In this March 13, 2014 file photo, university students hold a candlelight vigil for passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Yangzhou, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. The disappearance...   (AP Photo/File)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their hands to question Malaysian government officials during a news briefing held by the airlines at a hotel ballroom...   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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